Caroline Goodwin

Caroline Goodwin – Not, I’ll Not

Caroline Goodwin’s Not, I’ll Not is a haunting poem in three parts which takes its title from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ sonnet about meeting suffering, Carrion Comfort and explores some of the ideas in the psychedelic rock group Heron Oblivion’s song, Beneath Fields

Not, I’ll Not


Lay a lion limb. Tie up the branch, ask
            too soon for the ring or even

for the word. In the rushes, explosions. When
            we rediscover one another,

the hill takes on unseemly proportions.
            Grows by spreading. By a frond, by

a tower of jewels. At some point, the lobed
            or divided leaves of the violet. The loved.

The swarm of blue bottles and even
            a cluster of tiny antennae. In the swaying

grasses, I heard all the voices: too late, too late,
            too late, the tilting room, the silver anklet.



Feast on thee. All the way to Yellowknife,
            all the way to the lake. The word

was awen, the word was fish. I pronounced the word
            to you in the musk ox room at eventide,

under the quilt. At YouTube headquarters,
            the shooter came out on her knees.

On her curlew, muskrat, bittern, anemone
            bulb and fin. When I carry the wooden

bowl, it’s your hand. When I fall, when I
            burn out to the rising sun, O Lord,

O flannel shirt, O salmon leather, fireside chat. I’ll be
            the one on the sidewalk rolling up the fragrant leaves.



Be heron, be oblivion. Where you at? If I push
            the wheel: suffering. If I speak the dreams

of others (others) if I hold you tight and light
             up the rose fountain, break the sky?

Will you come to me then, blue skull, be me,
            be mine? Indeed, there will be time after dark

for the silver owl, the seawall, green paint. My breath
            along the waterway, how it finds you, opens

the pistil and ovary, the ornamental rush. I
            am the one you’ve been waiting for.

All this time. I am the pasture and sedge, turning
             and turning under the fences, light.



Caroline Goodwin
Caroline Goodwin

Caroline Goodwin moved to the Bay Area from Sitka, Alaska in 1999 to attend Stanford as a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry. Her books are Trapline (JackLeg Press, 2013), Peregrine (Finishing Line Press, 2015), The Paper Tree (Big Yes Press, 2017) and Custody of the Eyes (Dancing Girl Press, 2019). Her poem “Snaketime III” was awarded second place by Carl Phillips in The Sewanee Review’s 2019 poetry contest and her essay “A Widow’s Guide to OKCupid” was awarded second place in Cutthroat Journal’s Barry Lopez Nonfiction contest, judged by Heid E. Erdrich. She lives on the San Mateo Coast with her two daughters and Jimi Hendrix the Pug. 

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